Saturday, September 08, 2012

And they said that the era of the LP was dead! How wrong those technogeeks and fifties loathers (amongst many others) were, for it looks as if the plastic spinning record of yore is making a slow if steady (and perhaps even sturdy!) comeback! To which I say "huzzah!"...not that it really went away, but after listening to more than a few starry-eyed altruists and eighties-bred damaged brains (and I know we've all had to put up with them o'er the years) telling me how they were the first on their block to get a Cee-Dee player  I sure woulda gotta the idea that vinyl recordings were about as up to date and as "relevant" to current through processes as the Edsel. You know that old schpiel by heart already. It's the one that's been handed to us by everyone from early-seventies bell-bottomed/John Lennon eyeglass-framed hippies who berated us for hating David Crosby*, to late-seventies disco droids who felt so superior for to music that was custom made for men who are attracted to each other to dance to in order to get their minds off the fact that nobody would pick 'em off the meat rack in a million years with their receding hairlines and shaggy mustaches which made 'em look more like one of the Mario Brothers as opposed to Michaelangelo's David! Yeah, I know I shouldn't waste my time with such losers, but in real life (and on the internet) they're so hard to avoid...

And as time speeds on even more fresh spinners are headin' their way into my collection to intermingle with albums that are pushing up to sixty years in age yet remain as meaningful as the day they were plopped into the presser. Things like this sure make me glad that there is a clear connection between then and now, and that despite what a few young bucks might tell you some things thankfully just do not change. And as far as things that don't change go one of 'em has just gotta be albums that are what I shall call of "questionable" legality, like the following offerings that have come out on a strange label of either Italian (as the catalog description said) or Russian (as the Cyrillic lettering would lead you to believe) origin goin' under the obscure moniker B 13.

B 13's yet another one of those outta-the-way companies that have been coming out of Europe since the days of Joker International and a variety of other small organizations of questionable legality that make their living milking old recordings from non-Italian acts for all they're worth.  However, while most other bootleg labels release their items in standard cardboard sleeves with pretty pictures to catch the inquiring eye, B 13's wares come in plastic see-through sleeves with the pertinent (and sometimes incomplete) information printed up on 'em. Not only that, but they're all pressed up on colored vinyl of differing shades complete with a label that's so small it looks like a 45 rpm adapter! B13 also claim to release albums in quantities of 500 and not one album more which is probably the reason why these discs are goin' for a good $25 or more a pop wherever you can find 'em. Sounds like a neat concept in vinyl production though a drag on the pocketbook, and that's exactly why I snapped up a whole buncha (but not too many) of these albums in order to spice up not only the collection but my life as well!

I passed on a good portion of what's available because hey, these are kinda pricey and besides, the Mothers of Invention 'un that B 13's offering's the exact same item as THE ARTISAN ACETATE RS-6406 on the Mr. Natural label that I told you about back in May. Of course I could do without the Stevie Ray Vaughan albums as well as some of the other B 13 releases that just don't flibben my jib, but sheesh if the following records just don't seem so nice looking, pleasing and enticing with their obscure and unique offerings bound to make any true BTC reader raid the piggy bank! You all know what a pushover I am for psyche-puncturing sounds that helped change me from being an insecure loathed pile of blubber boy into an insecure loathed pile of blubber MAN (with a line like that you can tell I'm in the mood for lameoid sixty-year-old MAD magazine gags!), and records like these are what most definitely helped me on my "life's journey" and continue to do so!

The Velvet Underground platter B 13's got up for sale's pretty much the same collection give or take (tracks and stage banter) that we all got a good earful of not only on the infamous LIVE 1969 album but the by-now classic END OF COLE AVENUE double set that was turning heads back in the late-eighties. Sound quality is exemplary (better'n my long-standing originals which weren't pressed up that hot to begin with) and sheesh, every time I hear these numbers I can't just help but zone back to my senior year of forced drudgery (otherwise known as high school) at a time when I was so anxious to leave that horrid grind yet kinda cautious as to what was gonna be in store once I headed out into whatever it was that I was gonna be heading out into. There's a certain wondrous feeling I get when I hear these numbers performed by Lou and company for an appreciative Texas crowd that I also get when listening to albums such as HORSES, SHAKE SOME ACTION, the debut Modern Lovers and many more that only goes to remind me that the seventies certainly weren't the dungheap that many people who I guess know better made 'em out to be. Music like this is timeless, and although you know that a good fifty years from now it's all gonna be as forgotten as BEULAH reruns at least this still hits me hard in my soul and makes me long for the days when we all could find a solution to our teenage blues if we looked hard enough and didn't let teachers or authority figures get in our way. I wasn't smart enough to figure it out then, but if I only knew then what I knew now I would've been serving a good stretch in a boy's reformatory!

The Yardbirds' STOCKHOLM 1967 looked pretty tasty as well even though I already had this show via side three of BROKEN WINGS, a particularly potent Yardbirds double set that came out on the Della Quercia label around 1980 or so. Taken from Swedish radio, the sound is excellent especially when you consider that most radio broadcasts from the day come off as if they were recorded during a thunderstorm a good hundred miles away from the transmitte. Even if you ain't a hi-fi nut you should go for this gig which presents the latter day "streamlined" version of the group (with Jimmy Page holding everything down on his lonesome) romping through old favorites as well as current recordings including their new single "Little Games". True the folks at B13 spread the entire twentysome-minute show over two sides which ain't any special bargain, but then again just try locating a copy of the aforementioned WINGS or any other recordings of this boffo show that might have come out over the past XXXX years!

In comparison to the above entries, the first of the three Can releases on B13 really does put the "caveat" in "emptor", especially when you latch up what sure looks like a humdinger, slap in on the ol' Victrola and find out that MONSTER MOVIE LIVE ain't exactly what you thought/hoped it would be but the exact same legit platter and nothing but!. You can bet that when I played this one I was madder than Larry Flynt at a foot race, and I could imagine you'd feel the same way too unless you're the kinda guy who likes to be gypped outta your hard begged moolah in such an inglorious fashion. No interesting quirks, changes or revelations are to be found (as if I'd ever expect to find any in the first place), making me wonder just how B13 got away with pulling such a fast one other'n the legal loopholes that allowed this travesty to happen in the first place. A definite back of the bin stasher here, and an utter embarrassment to all involved in this needless repackaging!

Thankfully the other two B13 Can releases make up for this hideous swindle. TAGO MAGO LIVE, while perhaps not recorded in front of an audience, at least presents the side of Can people like us (or so I assume) have always cherished...the mad, anarcho screech that had English writers like Ian MacDonald heaping hefty Velvets/Stooges/MC5 comparisons upon 'em unseen at least until the p-rock revolt of a few years later had staid big city rockcrits plagiarizing leftover CREEM back issues due to their own lack of punkist acumen. I never heard this extended romp before so it not only surprised me but got me all hot 'n bothered with its repeato-riff madness and singer Damo Suzuki going through the same vocal gymnastics that made TAGO such a maddening effort. Describing this really can get beyond words especially when you can get overwhelmed due to the outright drive and verve presented like I have. A must for people who still thumb through their dog-eared issues of EUROCK if only to find the offhand comparisons to the punkier groups Hot Scott Fischer snuck into his articles!

After recovering from the full-fledged blast of the above FUTURE DAYS LIVE is yet another must have you might want to slip into your collection soon. Again this ain't a "live" album in the strictest sense but so what, mainly because as far as I can tell this 'un contains the entire (and legendary) "Dai Doko E" track uncut and the way nature intended! True we've heard that brief segment on (UN)LIMITED EDITION years ago but nothing will really prepare you for the entire enchilada that transpires here! Mesmerizing, especially when the simple, neo-Asian melody goes on and on while Suzuki mutters in both Japanese and English about "going back to Germany" and other strangities that used to get him compared to Iggy Pop by Eddie Flowers. You can just imagine the members of Mirrors smoking pot while listening to this and the above back when they were holed up on Storer Ave during the freeform (and freefall) mid-seventies. And although I don't want to contribute to the delinquency of minors or even old fogies like myself let me say that you just might want to do the same thing, though Coke and aspirin will probably have to make for a more legal substitute to the devil's weed.

If Can were the Velvet Underground of krautrock then Guru Guru just hadda've been the Stooges. Dunno how well an analogy like that holds up here in the beyond sophisticated 'teens, but I'm sure that if I were popping off a whole lotta rockscreed insight and information a good forty years ago such words would come off as being totally enlightening. Whatevah, B13 felt fit to release two live Guru Guru albums which were recorded at Wiesbaden during the years '72 and '73, and all I gotta say is too bad they didn't slap these two together because this woulda made for one of those boss two record live sets that were all the rage back in the mid-seventies! Oh wait, if they did that B13'd have to charge less for the two, and if anything you can tell this outfit is bound and determined to squeeze every last penny outta us starved rock 'n roll freaks and if they have to release albums separately to do that then so be it! In my own sick, addled way I gotta admire 'em for being such cutthroats, though why do they have to be popping the shekels outta me like blackheads on a teenage rump???

SQ on these is a whole lot better'n I woulda expected given the audience hand-held cassette ambiance of some previously-released early Guru Guru live settings. The performances are over-the-top crazy as well which is a startler esp. when you consider these were recorded right around the time Guru Guru started their long slide into music that I've been warned about for years on end (one reason I never had the nerve to plunk down any marks for their later efforts even with their neat covers). Performance is pretty pounding, pagan and perhaps even burundi in spots but it all does me well even when I have to endure one of Mani Neumaier's extended drum solos which don't sound as much Rashied Ali to me as they do Ginger Baker. But still these are some fun sets chock fulla excellent performances even with the noodling, and pretty surprising in spots like the part where what sounds like an African chorus appears to add even more confusion to the already third world atmosphere!

If Can and Guru Guru are the Velvets 'n Stooges of krautrock then Kraftwerk's just gotta be the Beatles. While the others were just barely lucky enough to get noticed outside of the continent Kraftwerk became international superstars not only with their worldwide hit "Autobahn" but with those late-seventies/early-eighties albums that were so dance-groove oriented that even black kids were buying 'em up! Since Kraftwerk never really jangled me as much as many of the other German expressionist groups of the day (other'n when I bought the AUTOBAHN album age fifteen and was bowled over because of the novelty of synthesizers blah blah snooze snooze) it wasn't like I was that anxious to snatch this live album up. But I did, and I am at least a little smidgen glad doing so even if that means I'm gonna get drummed outta the NORTON records fan club for admitting so ingrate that I am!

Side one's from a '76 French radio broadcast and comes off pretty snat even if the source was probably an nth-generation cheap-o cassette tape assembled in Pakistan. Can't really complain what with the Frog announcer and the performance of AUTOBAHN-period tracks that at least veer off the familiar path 'n sound perhaps improved because of the slight distortion. Kinda snappy even though it sounds like Ralf and Florian are using cheap chord organs they picked up at some flea market 'stead of state-of-the-art synths, but then again that's part of the charm, maybe...

Flipster's an '81 live show that I didn't think was gonna get me all excited considering how I'd written off the group as a buncha jackboot disco droids by this time, but surprisingly I thought this performance was entertaining at least in part. The better moments reminded me of latterday Kongress of all things (strange considering how that group derived their energies more from the Can and Amon Duul Zwei spectrum of German rockism) while the worse were about as on-target as some electronic gnu wave band of the day only with a lot more vigor. Considering how I was expecting something in the electro-disco variety a la Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer (which nowadays doesn't quite freak me out considering Gene Sculatti's positive review of the SON OF MY FATHER album with Seeds comparisons abounding and the fact that Donna Summer was front and center for the Velvet Underground's Boston performances) this is a hotcha surprise, only one that I'll be spinning in a good ten or so years after I FORGET what the thing sounded like!

I passed on the two Albert Ayler platters B13 have up for sale mainly because I don't wanna have too many dupes in my space-starved collection. However, I did manage to wrangle this particular wowzer with Ornette Coleman and crew live in Beograd (I think they meant Belgrade) Yugoslavia in 1971. Something in the back of my bean tells me that this 'un's been flying around for quite awhile but since it's the first time I ever laid paws on the thing I'm not letting this small fact get the best of me. Whaddeva it's a hot performance from the classic Coleman/Redman/Haden/Blackwell lineup that I doubt'll disappoint any of you staunch Coleman fans (or even casual passersby types) complete with his spazzoid violin playing which I thought at first was some clever avant electric guitar mutating and trumpet blurts which wouldn't've given Miles Davis any sleepless nights (but then again, was Coleman's playing supposed to???). The rest of the guys keep up pretty well, and I do get the idea that performing "Song For Che" woulda really gone over well with the audience at the time even though Yugoslavia was more West friendly than their neighbors as far as international leanings went. Nowadays they'd get run outta town on a rail doin' a song like that but hey, wasn't Communist chic such a big thing at the time? Judging from some of the things I've read on the web I think that it still is!

So there they are....Forced Exposure had some left when I last looked and of course ebay's just brimmin' with 'em. If you have the cash I guess they have the stash, and I know you could do worse, because honestly  you always have!

*tho is his IF I COULD ONLY REMEMBER MY NAME as hazy cool as many people I dig make it out to be? And if Byron Coley could get beaten up by a pack of punks for wearing a t-shirt with that album's cover emblazoned on it then it just might have been the hippie pick 'o '70 we could all agree on!

1 comment:

[uzine] said...

See also the discussion on … though those guys are confusing "bootleg" and "pirate" material. Nice blog you have here.